Training versus RE-training!

KP nut

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Dec 22, 2008
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So today I decided to teach Amber to stand still at a mounting block and to stand still when being mounted from the ground.

The mounting block bit was easy! Then things got more difficult and frustrating for both of us!

I started by teaching her to stand: essentially I want a horse who will stand, relaxed, without moving, until told otherwise. When she was able to stand still regardless of me walking around, waving my arms around, faffing with stirrups etc then I started with the mounting from the ground. But discovered that I could not do ANYTHING related to mounting without her moving off. I could not pick up the reins, nor hold the stirrup in an 'I'm about to mount' way without her moving off. I Figured her 'Irish Breakers Yard' upbringing has taught her that any of the movements that are preparing to mount, she interprets as an aid to start walking! I went round to the offside to explore that idea and she did not move off if I tried to mount from that side. So I think she was always mounted in motion, and never from the offside, so near side movements that signal mounting are an aid to her. And I kept correcting her over and over which was annoying her. Lots of tail swishing and harrumphing. As if to say 'WHAT'S THE PROBLEM? YOU WANT TO GO AND I AM GOING!!!'

In the end I had to break into down into miniscule steps. Stand still while I briefly touch the rein. Hurray, pat and release pressure (move away from her and leave her alone for a few seconds). Then lift the rein for a moment. Pat, release. Lift and hold the rein a fraction longer, pat/release. etc etc. Then the same with the stirrups. Then rein AND stirrups together. Then foot in stirrups. Then rein and foot in stirrups.

Well we got there....... ALMOST! She stood for all of that. So I decided to hop up and she walked off as I was halfway up!! But still a whole lot better.

Have also taught her to drop her head to be bridled. She is WAY too big to reach up.

Overall I think I have learnt that it is much easier to teach something completely new, than to unlearn an established behaviour. The mounting block was new so was not a problem. But she has learnt to walk off when being mounted and that is much harder to deal with. Reminds me why I like youngsters! But she is young enough and I really, really like her attitude. Once she finally understood, she was more than happy to just stand. :cool::p
 

Cortrasna

Grumpy old nag
Aug 5, 2009
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She is so typical isn't she - almost a textbook study of a green broke young Irish horse!:D If it helps I didn't have too much trouble teaching the doll the mounting block stand - didn't take long at all. But to make her (and others I have had in the past) stand while trying to mount from the ground was almost identical to how you describe it.

The quickest way I found was with a helper standing at her head and repeating stand firmly (me the rider trying to mount) while my helper (patient and long suffering OH) stood directly in front of her. Initially he would hold her reins (as a groom would in front of a carraige horse) if she went to move forward and if she did we would just back her up and start again....within a few lessons he only had to stand there...and then to one side...and then not at all as she had learned that when I said stand as I went to mount it meant just that 'stand'. I then had to circle and stand while I was on her until she also learned we go nowhere until I say 'ok walk on'. Thinking back it really didn't take too long at all. Good luck!;)
 

Trewsers

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Oct 13, 2004
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I should imagine it is pretty tricky to un-teach, because also it isn't like they are doing the wrong thing in their own head - she probably as you thought couldn't understand why movement isn't what you wanted the moment you prepared to mount / touched the stirrup. You souns very positive about her though, she sounds willing too:)
 
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Jane&Ziggy

Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
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Ha ha, Ziggy was the same whenever we trotted - he had learned to go super fast, strung out with his shoulders dragging him along and his head in the air. I am sure that for years he thought I was completely bonkers!
 

Hailz22

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Dec 29, 2016
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I was going to suggest the voice command of 'stand' as well - that helped with an OTTB a friend and I schooled and resold. She thought mounting was best done at a trot/canter as the jockeys at her track did that. Saying 'stand' kind of seperated it and made it something different. Then after she learnt to stand for 'stand' we only said it when she went to move off, then after a while we didnt need to say at all. It didn't take her too long to get it, but different courses for different horses and all that!
 

OwnedbyChanter

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Apr 16, 2009
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Re-training ginger pony was the hardest thing I have ever done with horses. Teaching from scratch is show. Show again then again they pretty much got it.

I had to muscle break ginger then rebuild slowly it was and still is hard work he I'd right now.

Stand at block was easy. I rarely get up from the ground even now I will walk to find something to stand on. I didn't fuss over it just left it. Got up on the block every day. The one day had to use the ground and he just stood. I guess he just trusted me and forgot about walking off
 

SeeingSpots

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Toffee used to spin when I tried to mount at a block. He was perfect if I mounted from the ground but would spin his bum at the block. I would politely move his bum back twice and on the third go, I'd get cross and would wave a stick at his bum. I never hit him but cross me isn't someone he likes so he quickly learned that it was easier just to stand still. I then spent a week, twice daily, tacking him up and making him stand by the block without walking off when I'd mounted. I played with his saddle, stirrups, reins, leant over him, got on, got off etc and it took literally a week of doing this and now he will stand at the block and he will stand and wait until you ask him to move forward. He can be difficult if he's sharp but not in a naughty way, more in a "let's do this!" way lol But he will wait if you ask him.

I think it's so important that horses can do this as there is nothing worse (and I see it a lot) than a horse who refuses to stand, walks off before you are seated, spins etc. It also starts to get dangerous if you're mounting on hacks and stuff if like me, you are useless with gates lol
 

KP nut

I'd rather be riding.
Dec 22, 2008
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Yes I agree. I always use a block as it's better for their backs, but I also always make sure my horses can be mounted from the ground without fuss in case you need to remount on a hack etc. And it's just good manners anyway! I don't like ignoring things or working round them, I'd rather just address any behaviours that aren't what I want, if I can.
 

SeeingSpots

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Yes I agree. I always use a block as it's better for their backs, but I also always make sure my horses can be mounted from the ground without fuss in case you need to remount on a hack etc. And it's just good manners anyway! I don't like ignoring things or working round them, I'd rather just address any behaviours that aren't what I want, if I can.

I'm the same and I always use a block where possible. :)
 

Skib

Well-Known Member
Dec 21, 2003
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Funny isnt it, I taught my share to stand to let me mount from the block and it never crossed my mind that I needed to teach her to stand while I mounted from the ground out hacking. I assumed she would if needed. And after a bit of revision coaching she stood still at my chosen spot and I did.

It does seem from Dylan and the stirrups and this dual mounting KPNut that you are adding refinements that it never entered my head to worry about. Rashid's approach keeps things very simple.
 

KP nut

I'd rather be riding.
Dec 22, 2008
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I never worry with an adult, educated horse either. I assume they will have had multiple experiences of riders losing stirrups, being mounted in all manner of ways etc etc. Most horses just figure it out eventually whether taught or not. But when you have a baby you need to teach them EVERYTHING. You need to teach them to be tied up, for example, or the first time they pull back and feel pressure on their head they may panic.

But too many people don't bother which means some adult, supposedly educated horses are still unable to be tied up. They pull back and break ropes. Some adult horses won't stand to be mounted. A friend often takes 10 minutes at the beginning of every hack just to mount as her horse won't let her get on! Too many people view things like this as just something the horse will/won't do and not something that can be taught.

You may think I am over-complicating things but here are 2 cautionary tales:

My friend recently lost a finger when her mare pulled back violently. She got her finger trapped and it sheared right off.

A teenager on the yard was riding the yo's 6 year old. The horse spooked, the rider lost a stirrup and the stirrup hit the horse's side. Horse had never been taught to tolerate this and bolted.

So feel free to assume I am wasting my time, but these lessons make perfect sense to me. Plus I enjoy them!
 
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KP nut

I'd rather be riding.
Dec 22, 2008
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ETA if you have read MR's books about the old man you may recall the exhaustive preparatory work he put into young horses before mounting. Hours and hours of saddle cloth on, saddle cloth off, saddle cloth tossed on from a distance, saddle cloth rubbed all over the horse. Cotton rope against mouth, in mouth, putting pressure on rope, then repeat with a bit etc etc etc till the horse had seen and was totally relaxed about all elements. He also describes banging the stirrups against the horses sides from both sides, as I did with Dylan.
 
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OwnedbyChanter

With out my boys life would be bland
Apr 16, 2009
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There is nothing wrong with working around an issue. As you have stated on many occasions if something you try doesn't work try a different method. Forcing this issue now is not winning you any favours and unless you are planning to hack out Tomorrow why rush this point now.

And i did not ignore the issue In my eye it was not my priority and it is not the same as teaching to tie up as that is basics the same as safe leading
 

Flipo's Mum

Heavy owner of a Heavy
Aug 17, 2009
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I had the same experience getting my lad to stand at the block (and he's a ginger as well, go figure!) I did a lot of work with him on his offside to reset things and he would stand happily. We found out later that he'd had a bad experience while someone was mounting and that together with saddle pain took forever to resolve. Its a shame that these bad experiences create such problems for us to overcome, but the biggest reward is when we manage it. I know its ideal world to have a baby untouched and unscarred, but the reality is that a lot of us do have to deal with other folks' problems (and mine was a very innocent one, it wasn't the person's fault at all, just a freak accident). Its a challenge though that can be dealt with and im sure you're the woman for the job.
 
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newforest

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Mar 15, 2008
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Any horse that you take on is going to have things that the previous owner allowed and you do not. Everyone has different ideas or views on things.
I suppose for me I am surprised you are actually trying to get on board. If they have been sold from the field they are in soft condition. So I would most probably spend a good few weeks of longreining and lunging to build up some muscle.
You can teach her to stand alongside the mounting block this way. I had a stool that I placed around the school and taught her to stand by it wherever I moved it to.

A horse moves off when a rider gets on for a few reasons. It's been allowed to or encouraged as in a games ponies or race horse. I know a rider who walks to the mounting block gets on and neither stop walking.
The other possible reason is they don't want you getting on because something is uncomfortable. Back, teeth, saddle.
 

MrC

https://m.facebook.com/MrKiasLife/
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For a follower of someone who teaches patience you seem to want everything yesterday with horses KPnut.

You have had the mare what a week and a half? You stated that you weren't bothered with goals and timescales yet you seem to want her to be perfect at things pretty much immediately?

Let the horse settle and get to know you before pushing issues or are you just after a quick turnaround so you can go looking for something else again?
 
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